Solidarity Without Borders Mike Zielinski analyzes the now-changed situation in El Salvador and the crossroads facing the solidarity movement. This magazine is aptly titled for a discussion of the future of the Salvadoran left and its solidarity supporters in the U.S. El Salvador's nationwide elections cap a two- year peace process which brought political transformations unimaginable during the war years, while leading to a new crossroads for the social justice movement. Win, lose, or draw in the elections, the FMLN and its partners in the Democratic Convergence will continue with the twin tasks of democratization and demilitarization. The FMLN, however, faces the seemingly uphill struggle of creating a democratic revolution in a unipolar world where - - in too many cases -- left alternatives have collapsed or been abandoned. The task is further complicated by the FMLN's lack of resources and the restraints of a political system where death squads still stalk the left. Solidarity activists in the U.S. are also challenged to keep alive an issue which no longer grabs the headlines or appears to be as urgent for the progressive community. The struggle has shifted in El Salvador, but the stakes remain high, and solidarity work still has a role to play in revitalizing progressive politics in the U.S. After the crash of socialist dominoes, U.S. elites are more preoccupied with spreading markets than stopping the spread of communism. Policy makers have concluded that it's time to move from free fire zones to free trade zones. Just as Central America served as a testing ground for U.S. counterinsurgency strategies in the 1980s, the region will continue to be a battlefield in the new economic war of the 1990s. While formal democracy exists in most of the hemisphere, economic power continues to be concentrated in the hands of a new, neoliberal right wing which is supplanting the traditional rule of oligarchs and generals. This new right is working hand in hand with the U.S. and transnational capital to ensnare Latin America in a neoliberal noose. Austerity measures batter the poor, while elites profit from the privatization of social services. Latin America's economic growth plummeted during the 1980s, while the number of people living in extreme poverty exceeds 180 million -- nearly 50 percent of the continent's people. The same neoliberal noose which strangles Latin America is being tightened here. From "enterprise zones" where employers pay people of color less than minimum wage to campaigns to privatize the educational system, increasingly policies first implemented in the Third World are being brought home. With the advent of hemispheric free trade agreements the exploitation of labor in Central America's spreading maquiladoras cannot be separated from joblessness in Detroit. The increased conflict brought on by these policies promises more social explosions like those which rocked the hemisphere in recent years, from Argentina and Venezuela to the Dominican Republic and South Central Los Angeles. As the North-South conflict intensifies, U.S. policy will continue on a collision course with social movements throughout this hemisphere. ACROSS THE AMERICAS This is the new global context for organizing solidarity with Third World struggles. Increasingly, ecological, economic, and health crises spill across frontiers. Foreign and domestic policies can no longer be boxed off as separate areas of struggle. We must create a solidarity without borders, inspired by a vision of change across the Americas -- both North and South. The Central America solidarity movement must join in larger challenges to the global economy, promoting campaigns for fair trade to guarantee a just price for the resources and labor of the Third World. An internationalist movement needs to look within our own borders as well. Recent immigrants to the U.S., many of whom have been uprooted by U.S.-financed wars, are coming under increasing attack. A goal of the solidarity movement should be to build support for immigrants' rights and contribute to the fight against a racist backlash. In California solidarity activists and members of the Salvadoran community are already actively engaged in multiracial coalitions standing up for immigrants. While linking El Salvador to larger economic and social issues, the solidarity movement's primary role will continue to be providing accompaniment and direct support to the process of change inside El Salvador. Within El Salvador, the left is refining its practice, while maintaining a vision rooted in socialist ideals. While it's no longer fashionable to speak of vanguards, the revolutionary process in Central America has been led by well-organized and determined movements like the FMLN and the Sandinistas. While forging stronger links with autonomous social movements, the solidarity movement should continue to provide political and material support to the FMLN. The creation of a new, civil society is of growing importance not only in Central America, but in Eastern Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia and wherever countries are emerging from periods of sustained civil war or political polarization. Within Latin America, a new popular majority is emerging, ranging from indigenous and women's organizations to street vendors and ecology groups. The process of social change must involve these new sectors. The Salvadoran left is working to engage those who have been historically marginalized like women, youth, and the inhabitants of shantytowns. These relationships are just taking shape in some cases, with activists struggling to define how autonomous social movements relate to political parties which themselves are just emerging from two decades of clandestinity and democratic centralism into the chaos of electoral politics. The U.S. solidarity movement should encourage these new openings by forging stronger people-to-people ties among women, youth, and ecology groups in El Salvador and their counterparts here. While continuing to provide political and material support to the FMLN, solidarity's focus must be broadened. These people-to-people ties can be fostered through delegations, cultural exchanges, work brigades, and tours. During the war years, a wide range of "sistering" ties were established, most notably sister cities and unions. There's still a need for these forms of institutionalized solidarity. But these solidarity relationships can also be made more flexible, linking up environmental groups, women's organizations, schools, or a single neighborhood. These links should also be viewed as partnerships with each community sharing its skills and experiences to build a transnational movement for social justice. Our movement must also be prepared to respond to human rights violations and press the Clinton administration to fulfill its responsibility to rebuild a country shattered by U.S. military hardware. Regardless of the electoral outcome, the potential for right wing violence and backlash will run high. If the left begins to exercise a significant share of power, the Salvadoran Armed Forces may ape their counterparts in Haiti by seeking to eliminate or depose elected officials of the left. The signals sent from Washington will be crucial in determining the outcome. The solidarity movement needs to maintain its ability to pressure the administration and Congress through human rights emergency response systems. The El Salvador solidarity movement has organized for close to 20 years. The romance of Third World revolution has been replaced by the nitty-gritty of organizing social movements which experience small gains and inevitable setbacks. Working together -- across borders -- we can forge a transnational movement which confronts new forms of economic warfare, identifying the common ground between the U.S. and El Salvador. The coalitions formed to oppose NAFTA point to new directions for international solidarity. Progressive opposition to NAFTA brought together working people from the U.S. and Mexico, as well as environmental, human and civil rights groups. This opposition was rooted in a solidarity perspective which connected these issues on both sides of the border, while highlighting the need to fight the economic power of transnational capital. NAFTA may be a done deal, but the neoliberal programs which NAFTA was created to serve will continue to provoke resistance. The solidarity movement needs to focus its work on linking communities in resistance from across the Americas. Within the U.S., this means conscious efforts to move beyond the peace movement's traditional outreach targets in white, middle-class communities and reaching out to those on the margins. Above all, U.S. activists can continue to learn from social change movements in Central America. Socialists from Nicaragua and El Salvador have suffered extreme repression as well as political setbacks. Through it all they've managed to stay rooted in their societies and play major political roles. Forms of struggle may change, but the need for radical transformations and people-to-people solidarity endures.